NBA
Azkals look solid in close loss to Azerbaijan
Alder Almo (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2014 - 10:29am

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals bowed to higher-ranked Azerbaijan, 0-1, but not without putting up a good fight in their FIFA friendly at the Al Shabab Stadium in Dubai on early Thursday morning.

The 93rd-ranked Azerbaijan, which plays in the same confederation as Spain, Germany, Italy and other football superpowers in FIFA’s UEFA, took the win on Rufat Dadashov’s free kick in the 26th minute.

The 127-ranked Azkals though played a solid game notwithstanding the rankings and the chemistry issues. Despite the 0-1 loss, Azkals skipper Rob Gier was upbeat. 

Newly-installed Azkals coach Thomas Dooley finally had his chance to size up Fil-foreign reinforcements Stephan Shrock, Jerry Lucena and Javier Patino, who were absent during the nil-nil draw against Malaysia last week.

The former US skipper turned coach started the trio in lieu of Ruben Doctora, Chris Greatwich and Mark Hartmann in the same 4-2-3-1 formation he used against the Malaysians. They had a shaky start but once the latecomers got the hang of Dooley’s system, the second half was altogether a different story.

After not finding a clear shot at the goal in the second half, the Azkals went on attack mode in the second half peppering the Europeans with seven shots on goal. Despite none of those attempts finding the back of the net, it was clear that the Azkals played better than their counterparts after the break.

Phil Younghusband, who was bothered by nagging injuries he sustained in the United Football League (UFL) almost put the Azkals on the scoreboard with two scoring chances – a rocket inside the box that went straight to the hands of the keeper in the 53rd minute and a free kick that just sailed inches above the crossbar 10 minutes later.

Patrick Reichelt, who went in as Misagh Bahadoran’s substitute at the onset of the second half, also had his moment when his header almost went in if not for the last-minute save by Azerbaijan’s keeper.

The Azkals will return to the Middle East in the next two months for mini camps – April in Qatar and May in Bahrain - as they wind up their build-up for the AFC Challenge Cup scheduled from May 19-30 in Maldives. 

AL SHABAB STADIUM AZERBAIJAN AZKALS CHALLENGE CUP CHRIS GREATWICH AND MARK HARTMANN JERRY LUCENA AND JAVIER PATINO MIDDLE EAST MISAGH BAHADORAN ROB GIER
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with